Virtual Interactive Workshop Facilitation
You have until the end of the week to submit an online workshop for the Digital Living Lab Days 2020 conference! But how can we host an interactive session online and what does a VIRTUAL workshop look like?
It is true that engagement is a much more familiar concept to many of us in a physical environment, but moving a session online does not mean that there is no space for interaction – in fact, it is possible to organise an interactive, collaborative and engaging co-creation session even in the virtual environment. Virtual workshops can utilize post-its and whiteboards, templates and votings in the same way as physical workshops too. Have a look at our Virtual Tools Catalogue to see the different virtual collaboration platforms we’ve collected.
Here, some tips we’ve picked up along the way when exploring the topic of virtual facilitation:
Before the workshop:
Running a successful workshop starts already before the event itself:
- Aim & audience: Communication is key: it is much easier to keep an audience engaged when the audience has arrived to your session knowing what it is about, and having signed up because of their clear interest toward the topic. Think about the aim and audience of your workshop, and communicate in a way that those interested will find their way to your workshop.
- Consider pre-session survey questions: to further tailor your session to your audience you may consider presenting a pre-session survey question – something your audience can answer before joining, so that you can tailor the content to match the interest of those attending.
- Methods & tools: In the same way as in physical workshop, the first step is to focus on the goals – the selection of methods and tools follows, considering which are the best to support achieving the goals you have set.
- Technology set-up: Get familiar with the virtual tools before the session, this is incredibly important to ensure a smooth facilitation of the workshop
During the workshop:
- Engage from the very beginning: it will be much more difficult to get participants active and engaged after a long one-sided presentation. Consider moving presentations to the end of the session, or sharing introductory materials beforehand.
- Setting the mood: think about warm-up exercises, introductions to the virtual tools, and participation guidelines: letting all participants know when to mute or unmute their microphones or webcams, how to contribute with ideas or questions etc.
- Technical set-up: introduction to the virtual tools will help your participants to actively participate, but so will we: at the DLLD workshops a staff member from the ENoLL team will join the session as a “co-host”, tackling any chat / technical questions so you can focus on leading the workshop.
- Methodology: there are many methodologies to choose from, or consider designing your own methods or templates for the session. We at ENoLL office have also collected some virtual co-creation methods in the bank that we’d be happy to discuss with you, if you have some meaningful topics and clear questions you’d like to explore in the workshop. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we already have a facilitation method/template to suit your needs! When selecting or designing your own methodology keep in mind, that the aim is to ensure that ALL voices are heard: does your methodology foster active participation and keeping EVERYONE engaged?
- Me-We-Us Methodology: This is a very basic and simple template that can be adopted for any interactive session: ME: first, pose a meaningful question to which all participants answer individually. No need to be afraid of some silence, it takes time to think! WE: Second, dividing the participants into breakout rooms (group calls dividing the participants in smaller ‘teams’) allow participants to share these ideas and discuss them together. US: Third, the group calls can be called back into the main call where all participants are present. Here, each team can present to the rest what was discussed in their group calls. This simple methodology can be adapted to any situations and using almost any tools – the most important thing is to find meaningful questions to guide the discussion.
After the workshop:
- Take-aways: the tangible (and intangible) outcomes are a key element in the virtual workshops evaluation process: always consider what are the key take-aways of your session, what are the participants walking away with?
- Feedback: easily collected at the end of your session, the ENoLL team will facilitate a feedback collection at the end of all workshops. If there are any specific questions you’d like to ask at the end let us know and we can integrate a unique feedback form for your session.